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Evicted Lake Albert fishermen stranded

Fishermen at Nana landing site on Lake Albert were evicted by UPDF soldiers leaving them homeless during this current lockdown. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 200 fishermen who were evicted from landing sites on the shores of Lake Albert remain stranded as the COVID-19 restrictions continue.

The fishermen and their families were evicted on Thursday from Songagagi and Nana landing sites in Kigorobya and Buseraku sub-counties, Hoima district. They pitched camp at Hoima landing site football playground in Buseruka sub county.

According to the fishermen, Uganda Peoples Defense Forces-UPDF soldiers ordered them to vacate the landing sites. The soldiers later demolished their houses.

Agenonga Watumbe, a fisherman says that life at the playground is unbearable since they don’t have any form of shelter. He says the soldiers warned them never to return to the landing site.

John Okethi, a resident of Hoima landing site called for immediate intervention from the government.

Jarieko Oruke, another resident says there is likely to be an outbreak of diseases like dysentery, cholera because of congestion and lack of sanitary facilities.

But Julius Hakiza, the Albertine region police spokesperson refuted allegations that the fishermen were forcefully evicted. He says that the fishermen voluntarily vacated the illegal landing sites on own their own.

Samuel Kisembo, the Hoima Resident District Commissioner-RDC could not be reached for a comment.

Recently the government announced plans of closing over 200 illegal landing sites existing on the shores of Lake Albert as one of the measures of controlling the spread of COVID-19. According to the government, the illegal landing sites are facilitating the illegal entry of Congolese nationals into the country.

Meanwhile the African Institute for Energy Governance(AFIEGO) in a statement called on the government to immediately stop those evictions and respect the rights of communities.

Afiego and other civil society groups operating in Hoima and Kikube say the government should also arrest and prosecute those involved in evictions. They say over 10,000 people are being forced to leave their homes where the majority have lived for over 40 years.

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